Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bolo in Manhattan: definitely a tilt to tantalize

charcoal grilled octopus with grilled lemons, fresh oregano & garlic Oil

Bummer news.....since this post, I recently found out that BOLO served it's last meal December 31, 2007 and has since closed it's doors after something like 15 years of service :( !!!

Yours truly,
Girl About Town

I was on a quest for tapas done right when we arrived to New York.

Often times, I found myself disappointed with what is identified as a TAPAS restaurant or TAPAS menu to be utterly nailed over the head with pre-game fixings (regarding NE Florida - not elsewhere)......

BOLO is located in the Flatiron District on 22nd Street. Once inside, it was as vibrant and becoming as I had imagined with an elegant ease. Service was relaxed, yet impeccable. The bar master was more than versed in the variety of Spanish wine offerings that rolled into an evening that became quite lush.

I had dined at MESA GRILL a couple of summers ago when shopping in the Union Square area. Thereafter, I found myself leaving with 'that' pretense of disappointment. Yet, at present no plans to go forward with a profile since my usual stance is to dine twice if the first try didn't hit the mark.

BOLO was a sensation that I was not expecting and I found myself not in any haste to leave.

The flavors were enlightening.

The visual presentation both keen and dimensional.

In entirety.....I found the evening to be blissful yet challenging to my senses.

The charcoal grilled octopus is a definite invite. When this appetizer arrived I was overwhelmed with its sight and well...........with its size.

I had never seen tentacles that large and intact.

Now I wanted to see the whole thing. You just NEVER STOPS for me!

It has been a while since I have had octopus as sweet and soft. The tenderness combined with the marinade alone would be enough to convince any person that is an 'anti-tentacles' type of eater to imbibe at least with one bite forward without toes curled or breath held back.......

The first bite down is pillow soft. Then to follow, is an amount of resistance that makes it fun to chew, plus amped with the citrus notes of the grilled lemon and fresh oregano; it was a treat alone to realize this just may be the last high note of our short stay.

But it wasn't.

Tentacles never looked so good

salmon tartare on crisp chickpea polenta cake with red pepper pesto & lemon-chive oil

Whenever I order salmon tartare; I leave the plate with my last bite thinking "Why the heck did I order this? I'll never order this again......."

I always do.

It's either boring - boring - boring - or something along the veins of; hey do you remember those tight jeans during the '70's that had that huge #$(*)%#$ rainbow stitched from the bottom of the cuff, then it arched all the way across your cr*tch area; then back down to the opposite cuff? Well; the salmon tartare appetizers remind me of something awfully contagious yet should be well forgotten.

It's okay to ask me WHAT ROCK, I've climbed from under........

Well, this one was not revived - it must have been re-invented, remade or just plain introduced to society.

Doesn't it look like a painting alone? It reminds me of Mondrian meets Chagall on a sunny day type thing.

And yes - it was just as DIVINE.

from the top: seared sea scallop with hot cherry peppers, piquillo pepper stuffed with raw tuna salad, sauteed squid & bacon with garlic oil

These little tapas style dishes were from the tapas menu. The tapas menu invited the diner to choose 4 of the pretty plates from a selection 13 tapas. Other tapas mentioned: artichoke heart with quail egg & caviar, twelve layer potato with caramelized shallots as well as pan fried duck liver with sherry vinegar, honey & black pepper.

Lamb sausage on oven baked flatbread & black olives

Our dining buds ordered the flatbread. I think everyone; under the conditions of this evening; were being quite covetous about what we ordered. I didn't try this; but it did look inviting.......well essentially, my honey and I were *lambed* out. We scaled down Times Square the other night about midnight and found an all night gyro grub spot SAHARA GRILL and went crazy with a killer gyro.

They even had the audacity to allow fresh cucumber chunks and lettuce intervene....oh.....too welcome of a surprise.

milk chocolate, fig & hazelnut tart with vanilla fig ice cream

This was another dish I didn't try, but it sat coyly across from me saying 'hey girl......'

I just adore figs.

Figs remind me of California. Figs totally remind me of Northern California.

I have always had this fantasy of sitting under a fig tree and eating the figs off the tree right as they are falling off. Then I know I would be able to indulge in the merriest of figs.

frozen chocolate almond mousse & rioja cherries with marscarpone mousse

layers of delight

Check out momofuku and you'll see why i crazed: hot steamed buns with shitake mushrooms just got me going........

This is another story: Oh and momofuku is another must tell. We sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen....literally overlooking the prep work. These buns were coming out freshly packed.

I bit into my bun. Remember when you have a freshly made GOOD steamed bun the first combined scent & taste is of literally what? - - - rice wine..........remember?

momofuku is the next post.

Bummer news.....since this post, I recently found out that BOLO served it's last meal December 31, 2007 and has since closed it's doors after something like 15 years of service :( !!!

Yours truly,
Girl About Town

23 East 22nd Street
New York, New York
Tel 212.228.2200

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

eating in new york city: was it Prometheous....gluttony or the Greek template that set mundane taste buds free?

@ Rockefeller Center a tad touristy but had to see it.....

It was just a four day jaunt to one of my favorite cities. Alongside NYC is San Francisco my home base, but Manhattan will do just fine as my east coast stomping ground to revive my senses again.

I still haven't grown to the taste of 'sweet tea' since living in Florida. Something about syrup over ice: it just doesn't settle well. It's suppose to go well with anything fried. Been there, did that and it still doesn't make the mark for me.

Sort of like uni.

Before we left to New York, I had to map out exactly where, when and what I was going to eat. With the little time I had; I did a few Google searches, made a few phone calls and we were well on our way to extending our palate limitations. When traveling; especially short trips - I prefer to have some sort of general itinerary so I am not idling in confusion about my whereabouts. I have tried letting go and arriving with no destination in hand with more time wasted than enjoyed. Now don't get me wrong - I love spontaneity but I think any well managed traveler will tell you it doesn't hurt to have a few destinations in mind before setting foot. The thought of any organized tour in large hordes absolutely makes me shudder. I would be completely embarrassed to be in an organized tour of any sort. What I do prefer is meeting up with the locals or even a solo tour guide would do just fine.

We had been to Manhattan previously and I was abhorred with all the tourist traps. So this time around I did my darnedest to avoid places and especially dining destinations that housed tourists gratuitously.

This was a last minute trip and I frantically searched for a bed and breakfast or a short stay flat of sorts in the Union Square - Flat Iron district for our stay. Unfortunately to make a long story short we ended up in Times Square which is in the heart of tourist central. Eventually everything worked out and thank God for the subway that was literally next door to our hotel.

My first quest was to dine at one of Mario Batali's more than seeping handfuls of restaurants. I didn't realize how many restaurants he had in New York. I was ultimately grateful that they were not cookie cutter chains (oh so of course not!) and that each one had an intensely soulful identity of it's own. I am just saying this since I reside in chain restaurant haven. Actually, I heard Orlando Florida is the chain restaurant haven in the states, so Jacksonville may be second runner up.

As tried and trued as I could - and I even called a whole month in advanced....they were booked. Both BABBO and LUPA, my top honored choices to revel in his mastery were both: BOOKED.

By chance, and by sheer luck I was having one of those moments when everything just fell into place: I was able to getting dinner reservations at 7:00 o'clock in the evening at Bobby Flay's ever so smokey BOLO. There's more to read on that as I am slightly.....well more than slightly impressed with BOLO.

Farmer's Market @ Union Square Park

Also on my primary list was the Greenmarket at Union Square Park. I had anticipated going to this for so long since I missed the timely and abundant farmer's markets of California this was on top of my wish list during our short visit.

It was the first morning of our stay and I gladly took the subway leaving Times Square for Union Square Park.

I walked up from the subway and found the sun greeting me at the top of the stairs. I had arrived right in the middle of the Greenmarket as anticipated.....

There were rows of gallant apples and pears greeting me.

There were bakers and a glorious bread stalls with freshly baked loaves. More vegetables, hot apple cider, pastries and a rows of more stalls to follow.

Everything from hand sewn bags, to knock off designer duds, leather, gemstones, jewelry, toys, it was an infinite souk of delight.

There were fine artists and musicians.

It saddened me that very little of this is supported in the Jacksonville area that I live.

I was glad to be back in the city.

the sweetest carrots ever....

I bought a bunch that survived the trip kids looked at me like; where are the souvenirs?

Another destination was Whole Foods Market. It was located right across the street from the park. I made my way through the bazaar and enjoyed an awesome lunch there. The endless buffet was welcoming as hardly anything was fried. What a relief I thought to myself.

chicken and rice soup at Whole Foods Market

Pre-made soups always tend to be too salty. This chicken and rice soup was perfectly seasoned. An added plus were the shitake mushrooms.

greetings from the Whole Foods salad buffet o'rama.....

Sprouts, baby peas, sliced fennel bulb, red beets, chinese dumplings, hearts of palm, itty-baby octopus and calamari to name a few.

My *love just had to see Rockefeller Center. It was a perfect stroll at least to knock off some calories.

Prometheus greeted us at the Rock

Okay, I have to take a breath now. I wasn't expecting to be coiled in too deep by BOLO.....but it happened.

Bummer news.....since this post, I recently found out that BOLO served it's last meal December 31, 2007 and has since closed it's doors after something like 15 years of service :( !!!

Yours truly,
Girl About Town

BOLO: oven baked flatbread with lamb sausage & kalamata olives was a plus....

We had dined at MESA GRILL a couple of summers ago and left slightly perplexed.

So I thought to give it a second try at BOLO, since I have been seeking tapas with that untimely twist anyways.....

Tapas that are eventful and something to 'walk about' for.

I was seeking tapas that were hot.

Tapas to write about.

Tapas that would delight into another incarnation of tastes perhaps.....

Well this was quite a becoming surprise.

BOLO: Charcoal grilled octopus with grilled lemons, fresh oregano & garlic oil

More words to follow about BOLO and about outrageous eating in New York in sucha short time.....

23 East 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010

Tel. 212.228.2200

Friday, December 7, 2007

bb's.......always pretty & always good to chew: beyond the song & dance

a weekly habit: bb's tuna tartar.....extra horseradish on the side please....

a lunch time special: swordfish steak made us linger...

smokey sausage hangs well with shrimp and penne.....

bb's in San Marco has been my stand by restaurant when I just gotta get out and don't want to be disappointed or go home with a wretched stomach after gallant dining expeditions in the city of Jacksonville.

I have had on 'my never ending list' of places to post about; like finalement, here it is.

The occasion I arrived for dinner to cover this post - I left slightly miffed at the server. I did not leave miffed at the establishment or the other service that is for the most part highly well quipped as ever and applies fine dining with an ease filled elegance as if I am in my own dining room sans the wreckage of my great room of course.

Case in point:'the server' asked as soon as I sat down if I have ever been to bb's before. That's not what bothered me; since I am a regular there and this guy was obviously new. What annoyed me #*%#@ outta moi; was his arrogance as he served us. His suggestions off the menu were specifically what we needed to go by and if not; he made us feel it with a brush of silence and all the forget-me-nots a scorned woman may vibe off in slight utterances....

Anyhow, case in point again: At least they had my favorite cheese bread sticks available. At least they had my favorite tuna tartar. They also had decent Viogner by the glass; which made everything all right at the end.

Okay - so beyond this 'girl' moment I was having; bb's has been a main stay to local elegant dining in a relaxed setting. I always feel like I am at 'home' there and many of times and usually all of the time; the service, food and hospitality is a notch way above others.

I just came back from nyc.

I forgot what it was like to SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.

I forgot what it was like to go out 'dining'.

I have this 'thing' about customer service. Exceptional customer service was everywhere in nyc - and if it wasn't they TOLD IT LIKE IT WAS, and there's no second guessing. Man, I like that so much. Takes my brain energy away from nonchalance. When I worked in Bev Hills - yes I did; back when rental off Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills the 90210 area was like $800 for a cool looking one bedroom apartment. I had an awesome apartment back then. Way better than Melrose Place. Not as dramatic goings on though.

Back to nyc stuff: The clients I worked with in the Bev Hills office were in nyc or from ny. Boy - they TOLD IT LIKE IT WAS.

Oh - nyc: the food.

That's my case in point for the next post: real food & nyc.

1019 Hendricks Avenue
Jacksonville, Florida
Tel 904.306.0100